By Charlotte Yarkoni, Corporate Vice President of Cloud + AI
Since its formation two years ago, Women in Cloud, a community-led initiative built to empower women-led technology businesses to drive growth through cloud solutions and services, has become a leading community and resource for women innovators all over the world. A key initiative within the Women in Cloud community is the Microsoft Cloud Accelerator Program, an immersive 6-month program designed to help women-led companies start and build their businesses through Microsoft and its cloud distribution channels.
Today, as we kick-off the second accelerator cohort of women entrepreneurs in the greater Seattle area, I’m proud to announce that Microsoft, in partnership with IdeaGen and Women in Cloud, will extend the reach of its Accelerators to eight additional countries, with programs planned for: Canada, France, Germany, India, Kenya, South Africa, the UAE and the UK. The program will also expand within the United States with a cohort in New York City launching September 2019 with another to launch in Chicago later in Fall 2019.
This scale will provide women-owned technology companies all around the world with access to the cloud, mentorship, networking communities and resources to bring women-led innovations to market. Through a multi-million-dollar, multi-year investment from Microsoft, it is our goal that with this expansion and continued scaling, this program can help generate $1B in cloud opportunity by providing accessible cloud technology to more than 1,000 women-led tech companies over the investment period, enabling them to scale their businesses for sustainable economic growth in all corners of the world.
We’re excited to build on the program’s previous success. To date, the Women in Cloud Accelerator has provided opportunities to 30 women-owned companies (12 Seattle area participants in the first cohort), accelerating businesses such as Stylyze, Meylah, Genneve Health, and Automaton, while developing more than $30M of Cloud pipeline at its start.
Since launching Microsoft for Startups, Microsoft’s vision has been to deliver access to transformational technologies like cloud and AI and go-to-market and community benefits that help startups grow their customer and revenue base. As a part of that commitment, we support the acceleration of opportunities for diverse and underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs in a myriad of ways such as partnerships with groups like Backstage Capital, Black and Brown Founders, The Riveter, and WTIA’s Founder Cohort Program, as well as launched programs like M12’s Female Founders Competition.
As a woman and a leader at Microsoft, I’m proud of these initiatives, many of which have been established and are supported by women leaders within our organization. I am encouraged by our continued commitment to providing inspiration and mentorship for both women in tech and those just starting to develop interest in the industry. While there remains much to do, we at Microsoft believe that we will only be able to address our toughest technology challenges when we embrace diverse perspectives. To build this diversity, it’s critical to have a varied partner ecosystem and one that actively supports women entrepreneurs.
We can’t wait to see what innovation this partnership will foster – members of women-led companies are encouraged to apply here. We are currently accepting applications for our Chicago cohort, and will be opening applications for our global cohorts soon.